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Gig Harbor Fly Shop Offers Free Explore Fly Fishing Seminars: Building a Community Around Fly Fishing

In recent years, the Gig Harbor Fly Shop has offered one of the most extensive fly fishing education programs in Western Washington and for 2014 is expanding learning opportunities even further with more dates offered than ever before. Instruction ranges from free exploratory sessions to full introduction classes and courses addressing advanced techniques. Two free 1-hour exploratory seminars are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22nd at noon and Saturday Mar. 22nd at noon.

A primary goal of the education program is to help simplify and streamline the process of getting into the sport. Often, people are discouraged by the perception that fly fishing is highly technical and difficult to learn but the Gig Harbor Fly Shop wants to help dispel that myth, especially with the free exploratory seminars. “Fly fishing has the potential to be technical and can be a way to challenge oneself as an angler, but to get started is far more simple than most folks realize,” said the shop’s education director, James Harrington. “Knowing the basic equipment, learning how to cast, and a handful of flies are all you really need to get started. There’s no limit to where you can take it from there.”

And the Gig Harbor Fly Shop’s education program does precisely that. Interested individuals can attend the free seminar then follow up with a basic introductory class. “Fly Fishing 1.1” is $50 and covers topics including: tackle and equipment, basic fly types, how and where to fish in Washington and what many consider to be the highlight of the class...hands on casting instruction.

Beyond the basic intro course, budding anglers have multiple options to learn intermediate and advanced tactics. An “On The Water Experience” class provides anglers a chance to hook and land their first trout on a fly rod. Another offering, “Fly Fishing 1.5: Puget Sound Beach Clinic” is one of the most popular classes with progressing anglers or those who have moved from another part of the country where they have fly fished, but perhaps not in saltwater. Blake Merwin, fly shop owner and instructor said, “It is a lot of fun to show people the overlooked fishing opportunity right here in our back yard. Fly fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout from our vast shorelines of Puget Sound is a unique experience and offers a chance to catch beautiful, hard-fighting fish.” The beach clinic also covers techniques which can be applied to fishing for migratory Pacific salmon. Other course options include an introduction to fly tying as well as individual casting instruction and guided trips.

In addition to exploratory seminars and formal classes, the Gig Harbor Fly Shop strives to build a community around fly fishing and hosts many additional free seminars and clinics at the shop. These informal events sometimes feature highly accomplished fly tyers and anglers conducting clinics; others are just a fun time down at the shop with an opportunity to get together with fellow area anglers.

Its clear that the fly shop views its patrons as more than simply customers and seeks to include them in the community they have developed around fly fishing. Staff members at the shop also point out the importance of preserving our local and regional fishery by protecting the resource and feel that the sense of community is vital to that mission.

A full roster of classes and the dates they are offered are found on the shop’s website along with links to their webstore and blog at: The shop can also be reached via email or phone at or 253-851-3474.